A deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union has been deemed “impossible” after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel exchanged heated words over the phone on Tuesday morning.
According to BBC News, a Downing Street source confirmed that the two European leaders clashed over a new set of proposals that Johnson put forward to the E.U. last week. Merkel reportedly insisted that Northern Ireland should stay in the customs union indefinitely, which caused the U.K.’s prime minister to declare that, if that were to remain a condition, a Brexit deal was “essentially impossible, not just now but ever.”
Later in the day, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, accused Johnson of playing “a stupid blame game.”
“What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people,” he tweeted directly at Johnson.
Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney, also took to Twitter to agree with Tusk, adding that they “remain open to finalize a fair Brexit deal, but need a UK government willing to work with the EU to get it done.”
One of Britain’s biggest issues when trying to strike a deal with the European Union has been in relation to the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Neither the U.K. nor the E.U. wish for a hard border to be implemented again between the two nations.
It is obvious that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives are trying to shift the blame for their own arrogant refusal to negotiate or suggest workable options. The blame for this mess does not lie with Merkel. It lies on the shoulders of the Conservatives. https://t.co/fqGwUqpMJI
— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) October 8, 2019
During their 30-minute call, Johnson and Merkel heavily disagreed on the subject of allowing Northern Ireland to remain in the bloc’s customs union so as to facilitate trade across the border.
Ever since the British P.M. presented the new deal to Brussels last week, the European Union has been asking for “fundamental changes” on his position when it comes to future trade regulation in Northern Ireland.
With next week’s E.U. summit fast approaching, a source close to Downing Street claimed that their heated chat was a “clarifying moment” for the prime minister, as per The Daily Mail. It is now reportedly likely that Johnson will want to “boycott the gathering.”
The prime minister is an advocate for a no-deal Brexit and insists that the U.K. leaves the European bloc by the previously-stipulated deadline of October 31 — with or without an agreement. However, Members of Parliament have recently signed a new bill, known as the Benn Act, which essentially requires the prime minister to request an extension to that deadline if Parliament does not sign off on a deal by October 19.
It wasn't an offer but an "offer" – a bauble for domestic consumption. That Merkel even bothered to engage with it speaks only of her respect for diplomatic protocol.
Lobby not covering itself in glory by playing along with this pantomime.https://t.co/e8SnoWuixs
— Jeremy Cliffe (@JeremyCliffe) October 8, 2019
Political analysts agree that it is likely the U.K. will have to request a further delay if it fails to bring a more partisan deal to the table.